Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Paula Malcomson, Natalie Dormer, Evan Ross, Elden Henson, Wes Chatham, Patina Miller
Directed By: Frances Lawrence
Yes, I’m tardy to the party. But, I did get to see this in theatres (even though I saw it very late). At first, I didn’t see the film because I had hopes of finding time to read the Mockingjay book prior to watching the film. As you might have guessed, that didn’t happen. I was disappointed, because I had read the first two Hunger Games books, but never made the time for the third. So, for once, I don’t know how well this lines up with the book. But, since it was split into two movies, I’d imagine it’s a terribly faithful adaptation of the book.
I’m a fan of the Hunger Games franchise, so I tend to overlook some key issues with the story, simply because I find the overall story to be entertaining. I didn’t really like Jennifer Lawrence’s acting (for the first time ever, I think). I thought her sad face was fake, and her danger face never felt like there was any imminent danger. Her acting bled over into Hemsworth, who just turns his brooding to 11, and Claflin, who seems to have lost every reason why Finnick was cool in the second book. Now he’s mopey, and completely quip free. Stanley Tucci’s fabulousness has been sidelined into boring TV interviews, Julianne Moore delivers a muted performance, and Woody Harrleson’s character has sobered up. All the fun has been sucked out of every character, including Elizabeth Banks’s Effie Trinket. HOWEVER, for Effie, it’s actually really part of her character development, and Banks soars with what she’s been given here. Also, Philip Seymour Hoffman commands an expanded Plutarch, and newcomer Natalie Dormer adds a lot to her scenes.
It’s the least action packed of the Hunger Games franchise, due to the fact that there are no Hunger Games. It’s a lot of plotting and planning and finger-pointing (but no finger-painting). It’s a lot of weird facial expressions from Katniss, mixed in with a few real emotions (Lawrence isn’t off her game the entire film). It might be the most uneven in the franchise, but it isn’t a huge letdown. The expansive story really ties the whole franchise together, revealing the existence of a 13th district, what happened in District 12, and the continued oppression by President Snow on his people. The characters in the Hunger Games series are growing up, and their films are growing up with them.
I’m definitely still looking forward to the big finale next year, knowing that we’re about to go from 0-100 in terms of tempo and action. Not my favorite Hunger Games film, but it’s not a bad film either.
FINAL GRADE: B